Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Taxpayer money should help buy Awaroa beach: Labour

The beach is listed with real estate company Bayleys, which describes it as "picturesque". Photo / Supplied
The beach is listed with real estate company Bayleys, which describes it as "picturesque". Photo / Supplied

Taxpayer money should be put up to help buy an idyllic, privately owned beach at the top of the South Island, Labour says.

The 7ha on the Awaroa Inlet north of Motueka is being sold for $2 million.

An online campaign has so far raised $1,128,403 through the crowdfunding website Givealittle.

Today, Labour leader Andrew Little said the Government should make it a Waitangi weekend to remember by agreeing to meet the remaining cost of buying the beach.

"The Prime Minister should follow the lead of thousands of Kiwis who have already stumped up half the purchase price because they see this beach as more than just any old piece of land," Mr Little said.

"More than 11,000 people have chipped in to the campaign because they care and they see access to as much of our coastline as possible as a birthright."

Last week, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry confirmed that the beach would be added to the Abel Tasman National Park if the online campaign to buy the land succeeded.

Today, Ms Barry said she had instructed conservation officials to speak to the organisers of the campaign about the legal requirements for making the beach part of the national park.

If the target were reached, free access would be secured for the public in perpetuity.

The campaign was started by Christchurch resident Duane Major, who regularly visited the beach.

The Department of Conservation has previously said that it is not interested in buying the spot because it is not considered a precious ecological site, but it would be open to receiving the land as a gift.

A spokesman said the department could not justify spending $2 million on 800m of beach and a section of kanuka scrub.

Tenders for the sale close on February 16.

- NZ Herald

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